World Natural Heritage – Yambaru and Iriomote to go on World Natural Heritage prospective list

December 27, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On December 26, the 3rd Amami Ryukyu World Natural Heritage Candidate Scientific Committee met at a hotel in Naha. The committee announced that it has chosen Amami, Tokunoshima, Iriomote Island and the northern municipalities of Kunigami, Ogimi and Higashi as candidates for the World Natural Heritage list. They will appear on UNESCO’s prospective list in the New Year, with the final decision being made no sooner than July 2016. The Ministry of Environment will submit a letter of nomination to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre by February 2015. They will work with the Forestry Agency to decide upon the special protection areas that will make up the core of the registration to the World Natural Heritage list. The ministry will also cooperate with the prefecture to speed-up the process of converting some areas into national parks.

There now also needs to be discussion with landowners, people in the forestry industry as well as dealings with the U.S. military’s Northern Training Area, which stretches from Higashi to Kunigami.

Amami and the Ryukyu Islands were divided into 17 areas, four of which were selected based on the inhabitation of endangered native species and the proportion of land covered by forest.

Both regions share a long history of isolation from the continent, have many native species of animals and plants, and have developed wet subtropical rainforests.

(English translation by T&CT and Hitomi Shinzato)

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